How Strong Women Pray
Author Bonnie St. John has a life story that resonates of triumph over many obstacles. As a child her leg was amputated. She was abused by her stepfather. Finances were tight. From every vantage point, St. John had to struggle to survive in a world where the disabled often fight for equal treatment and opportunities. And fight she did. Through much self-discipline and self-sacrifice, St. John forged a path for herself that resulted in monumental achievements. She became a one-legged Olympic ski champion, a Rhodes Scholar and even a White House official. And yet, despite her accomplishments, St. John is candid about her losses as well. She writes her life story in piecemeal segments positioned in between other women's stories of success.
With real transparency, St. John details the sexual abuse she endured at the hands of her stepfather and how this traumatic experience, which began when she was just two years old and ended at the age of seven, altered her life. She shares how emotionally disconnected she lived well into adulthood, unable to respond with appropriate emotions to life's events --- both the joyous and the sorrowful. St. John explains how achievement and accomplishment once defined her existence, and then she placed her self-worth in her husband's hands. Time after time, she overcame challenges of every sort, and yet she admits that she wasn't emotionally healthy.
After many years, St. John sought God in earnest and began to heal on the inside. She looked at her early abuse square in the face and confronted it. Then, she started on the slow journey to emotional wellness. Recounting life as a sought-after speaker and a new mother, St. John also tells of her decision to divorce and make a move to New York to start over. Readers will appreciate her stamina and resilience, as well as her honest admissions of failure.
Every other chapter of this prayer study features 27 well-known women's personal takes on the value and practice of prayer. Paired with each celebrity's story is St. John's own experience developing a life characterized by praying and leaning on God for her sustenance and strength.
Readers will enjoy the brief insights offered by such a diverse group of women: Maya Angelou, Barbara Bush, Nadia Comaneci, Delilah, Kathie Lee Gifford, Amy Grant, Kathy Ireland, Marilyn McCoo, Janet Parshall, Christine Todd Whitman and Heather Whitestone. One of the most interesting aspects of this compilation is the mini-descriptions of poignant moments in each woman's life that preceded seasons of intense prayer and personal growth. As varied as the ladies themselves, readers will find that prayer is individual and unique, and one's approach to God is always singular.
Bonnie St. John's story alone is worth the read, but together this intriguing mix of prayer stories from so many female leaders brings even more substance to the text.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on November 13, 2011